Friday, September 26, 2014

Here Be Dragons. What US Conservatives Think About US Liberals.

"Here Be Dragons" is what was assumed to have been written on the old maps when the mapmaker didn't know anything about some far distant area.  I always loved that optimistic statement!  The dragons must be somewhere, after all.  But it looks as if the only place where that sentence truly was written was on one old globe.

I was reminded of those lovely dragons when I read this article about how American conservatives view American liberals.  Two snippets:

Here’s the view from the Heritage Foundation: Liberalism creates self-indulgent, licentious hedonists willing to cede every other kind of freedom to an increasingly authoritarian government.
“Give up your economic freedom, give up your political freedom, and you will be rewarded with license,” said Heritage’s David Azerrad, describing the reigning philosophy of the left. “It’s all sex all the time. It’s not just the sex itself—it’s the permission to indulge.”

But liberalism isn’t just about pleasure-seeking and moral relativity: The oppressive nature of liberal government has crept into our popular culture as well, warns Voegeli, senior editor of the Claremont Review of Books. Coupled with the demand for tolerance and self-actualization is the growing tyranny of political correctness.
According to liberals’ worldview, “humans are too psychologically frail to maintain their self-esteem when faced with harsh criticism,” he said.
“Fairness then requires protection against not only sticks and stones, but against names, dirty looks, inappropriate laughter, white privilege, and ‘mansplaining’ that could generate a feeling of the inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect people’s hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone,” Voegeli concluded.
Nothing less than the future of freedom as we know it is at stake. “What will then be left of what Madison called ‘the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, the spirit which nourishes freedom and in return is nourished by it’?” wondered Azerrad.
The emphasis is mine.

This is fascinating stuff.  I never realized that I'm fleeing freedom and have lost my manly and vigilant spirit or that I was getting so much hot sex that my ability to take any kind of criticism has been sucked out of me. 

Then, of course, my map would have the dragons in a completely different place, because freedom for Mr. Azerrad or Mr. Voegeli means something rather different than freedom for women or racial minorities or poor people etc.  Indeed, descriptions of the above type must imagine what dragons might look like, what they might eat, how they might fly, how they might procreate and so on.  When that information is lacking, make assumptions!

And the same could go in reverse.  Knowing that hampers my gleeful writing here.  But at least I have learned something about a few on the US right edge:  They think liberals are willing to give up everything for sex* (even though my following various events suggests that newsworthy sexual escapades and even sexual crimes are certainly at least as common among Republican politicians and clergy as they are among Democratic politicians and clergy, and probably more so) and they seem to have a very specific definition of "freedom."

I'm not  sure what "freedom" means in Republicanese,  but it might mean power in the hands of a particular group of people and not in the hands of other groups of people.  The latter groups are expected to meekly accept their places in the hierarchy, led by others and managed by conservative religions.

That came across all Marxist!  Gulp.  I'm not a Marxist, though he did ask some of the right questions.  In fact, I'm probably not even a liberal, what with a dearth of sexual escapades and no obvious desire to have the whole world run by governments (or the corporations or the various religious bosses).

The liberal dragons drawn on those conservative maps are weird stereotypes.  The same would be equally true of conservative dragons drawn on liberal maps, or at least somewhat true.  That is sad, because the lack of proper communication is one reason for the infected politics of this country today.

*This one makes me a bit confused.  Notice that it's the political right which is the home of those who write diatribes (content warning for those two) about the need for women to take responsibility for becoming victims of sexual violence and notice that the concerns about sexual violence are portrayed as political correctness gone amok.  Then there's the idea that the alleged victims of sexual violence exaggerate, label bad sex as rape and so on.  As far as I can tell all this comes from rather righty places.

So the definition of who is entitled to licentiousness and/or safety might matter in understanding the concerns in the quote.